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Brahms: Symphony No. 3, Serenade No. 2


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SKU: 43821 Category:


Brahms Symphony No. 3 - I. Allegro con brio
Brahms Symphony No. 3 - II. Andante
Brahms Symphony No. 3 - III. Poco allegretto
Brahms Symphony No. 3 - IV. Allegro
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - I. Allegro moderato
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - II. Scherzo. Vivace
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - III. Adagio non troppo
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - IV. Quasi menuetto
Brahms Serenade No. 2 - V. Rondo. Allegro


On June 11th 2021, Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra complete their Brahms Symphony Cycle on Channel Classics Records. This new album features Brahms: Symphony No. 3 and Serenade No. 2.

A minor miracle! The recording commenced one day prior to Hungary closing its borders on September 1st, 2020. Engineer/Producer Jared Sacks had just arrived from The Netherlands. Despite the lockdown, the venue remained accessible, and the recording could be completed.

“A life’s story in ten bars – there is no more magnificent opening of a symphony than the first 34 seconds of Brahms’ Third. We hear a resolute harmony, a proud major chord followed by a twisted one on the same foundation – good and evil, heroic and mean – but it is a mere introduction to the real birth, a victorious emanation of energy, full of life and light. Each bar of this outburst takes us to a new experience: to happiness in F major, sadness in F minor, wandering into the distantly related D flat major, with a confusing dead end of the diminished 7th as if we would almost lose our way. But then a magic solution takes us on a lyrical journey reaching first to fulfillment and finally to a peaceful decline. This is how we should live.”
– Iván Fischer

Brahms dedicated himself to music that was pure and abstract, which ‘portrayed’ nothing: no stories, no travel epics, no visual impressions. But nonetheless the Third does possess a personal undercurrent. The main thread of all four movements is the little motief F-A-F. With these three notes Brahms, the eternal bachelor, expressed his personal motto ‘Frei aber froh!’ – free but happy! It was a reaction to the musical signature F-A-E (‘Frei aber einsam’ – free but lonely) of his good friend the violinist Joseph Joachim. And despite all his aversion to the new rage of the symphonic poem, he delighted in the letter from Clara Schumann after she heard the symphony: ‘The opening movement depicts a delicious dawn … the second movement an idyll, prayer in a small chapel in the woods, the flow of a brook, the rummaging of little beetles…’
– From: Liner Notes by Clemens Romijn

Additional information


Recording format



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Grimm LS1

Mastering engineer

Jared Sacks


Jared Sacks – Pyramix Workstation / Merging Technologies


Van den Hul

Mixing console

Rens Heijnis, custom design


Bruel & Kjaer 4006 , Schoeps

Analog to digital converter

Horus, Merging Technologies


Recording date

September 2020

Recording location

Müpa Budapest

Recording engineer

Jared Sacks, with Assistant Recording Engineers: Tom Peeters, Paul de Vugt


Jared Sacks






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Press reviews

Luister 9.5 stars 9 out of 5

Fischer betoont zich hier met zijn Budapest Festival Orchestra de grootmeester van beheersing. Een orkest dat dan weer gromt en dan weer speelt met een natuurlijk ritme en subtiliteit.

Positive Feedback

This Brahms Third recording takes pride of place above all others in my collection. Here is a superb interpretation, excellent performance, and outstanding sound quality all in a single package from Iván Fischer, the Budapest Festival Orchestra, and Channel Classics.

Winnipeg Free Press 4 out of 5

(…) Acclaimed Hungarian conductor/composer Iván Fischer completes his cycle of Brahms complete symphonies (…) smoothly legato phrasing and well-blended winds (…) bristling with taut energy throughout. (…)

Opus Klassiek

(…) Fischers Brahms is vervuld van dramatiek, luciditeit, gratie, energie, momentum, breed uitgesponnen lyriek en fraai opgebouwde spanningsbogen.(…)

Luister 9,5/10

(…) Fischer betoont zich hier met zijn Budapest Festival Orchestra de grootmeester van beheersing. (…) Het is allemaal heel rijk en tegelijkertijd ook heel gecontroleerd. (…) Deze opname vormt het gloedvolle sluitstuk van een reeks Brahms-opnames van Fischer en zijn festivalorkest.

(…) Fischer und die Budapester erweisen sich einmal mehr als begnadete Stimmungstalente, die nicht zuletzt dank ihrer ausgefeilten Spieltechnik (Streicher) und fantastischen Klangfarbensensibilität alles an Atmosphäre aus dieser Partitur rausholen, was sie zu bieten hat. (…)

Gramophone Magazine

Iván Fischer leads his players in a richly expressive performance of both Brahms’s Third Symphony and Second Serenade, a beautiful orchestral sound wonderfully caught throughout. 

Crescendo Magazine 10 out of 5

(…) On sent que Fischer a beaucoup réfléchi à la structure même de son vécu brahmsien. Il semble en avoir retenu les composantes lyriques les plus nobles en les adaptant aux qualités des couleurs de son orchestre, privilégiant la substance expressive et l’éclairage chaleureux plutôt que le message de grandeur ou de dramatisation. (…) L’excellence de la prise de son (…) est à souligner.

Classical Music Sentinel

There’s a “cushy”, informal sound to this orchestra and a relaxed yet highly detailed direction by Iván Fischer that befits the lush orchestral writing of Johannes Brahms. (…) If you have yet to experience Iván Fischer’s outlook on the symphonic music of Johannes Brahms, this would be a great place to start. And now that the cycle is complete there’s no need to stop there. They all offer a fresh take on these indispensable masterworks.

BBC Music Magazine: 3 + 5 stars

(…) the Third Symphony’s lyrical movements are projected with great expressive warmth, wonderfully subtle phrasing and a fluidity of tempo. (…) the performance of the Second Serenade is entirely enjoyable (…) Channel Classics’ recording sound is exemplary (…)

ArtaMag Artalinna: “Le Disque du Jour”

(…) La balance sonore est inouïe, qui fait tout entendre dans le corps harmonique, et les tempos tous médians – le Poco allegro est emblématique – distille une poésie souvent étrange. 


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